Good Clean Fun

3 July 2012 | 12:00 am | Stephanie Liew

“We’re very nerdy and lame.”

More Fun. More Fun.

Fun: they like to have it, they incorporate it into their music, and it's also their band name. We Are Young, the first single off fun.'s second album, Some Nights, seems like a good representation of their sound – youthful yet not immature, theatrical yet not overdramatic, and stuck-in-your-head-all-day catchy. Plus, it features Janelle Monae, who fun. multi-instrumentalist Andrew Dost names as one of the artists he respects most in the world. “To have her as part of one of our songs is just really an honour. Actually, after she recorded we got to tour with her and get to know her a bit more and she's just such an inspiring person to be around and to know.”

To complement the big, power-pop/stadium rock sound of We Are Young is an equally epic music video. It opens with the band on a stage, dressed in suits and performing to a bar full of people. Before long, a fight breaks out, food and drink is thrown, (fake?) glasses smashed and men are brawling, all in spectacular slow motion. “We were wearing like our nicest suits that we bought just for photo shoots and special occasions, and I got shot in the back with a cannon filled with cake,” chuckles Dost. “And there was flour, cereal, fish guts, cow tongues and fake intestines… I don't know if it was all real or if it was stage prop stuff, but it seemed like real guts at the time! It was just very messy, the floor was filthy and I'm surprised nobody got hurt because everything was slimy and covered in grime, it was crazy! But it was a blast. We were so thrilled about how it came out.”

Dost admits he enjoyed making the video a lot because he “likes to break stuff,” but in reality, he is not what you'd describe as 'rock'n'roll'. “I don't know if you guys have this expression in Australia, but we're pretty square. We're very nerdy and lame! Like, we like to go eat dinner and we like to watch movies and get in bed early. So most of our wildest stories are pretty tame. We had a water fight on our bus that left everybody's bed soaked and we ended up having teams, like prank wars. It ended with everybody having to dry their beds out with a hairdryer because everything was just completely soaked… I guess there's that! Good clean fun. We're good honest kids!”

While fun. have had the opportunity to support bands such as Jack's Mannequin and Paramore, and release a joint single with Panic! At The Disco, it was We Are Young that propelled them into the mainstream consciousness. It managed to retain the number one position in the Billboard 100 charts for six weeks, as well as top the ARIA charts and go twice platinum here in Australia. The fact that TV program, Glee, covered the single probably helped a little too. Dost thought it was too good to be true at first. “Whenever anything good happens to me, I just automatically assume that it's not going to happen! Then to actually see it air and know that the Glee audience was seeing it was just a very good feeling, very surreal and wonderful. We put so much of ourselves into this song and then these other people took [it] and made it their own and put so much of their own energy into it, and it was a very neat feeling to know that it can become more than you originally intended it to be.”

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Dost's ability to play more than ten different kinds of instruments – including all the standard rock instruments as well as keys, trumpet and flugelhorn – is helpful when writing and arranging fun.'s songs. “It's not as impressive if you could see how hard I've worked throughout the course of my life and how many nights I stayed home practising and didn't go to parties and didn't have friends!” he laughs. But all those nights spent at home perfecting his skill seems to be paying off now. “It's very helpful in terms of songwriting because when we're wondering if there needs to be a horn part here or if we need a string arrangement or whatever, we don't just have to imagine it, we can make it happen while we're actually writing the song. I think that definitely helps to increase the scope of our songs.”

While each song differs slightly in genre and style on Some Nights – the result of each of the three members' very different music tastes – fun. have tried to incorporate a rhythm-heavy, subtle hip hop sound overall and, surprisingly, it works. Perhaps that has something to do with Jeff Bhasker, who has worked with hip hop and R&B artists such as Kanye West, Beyoncé, Alicia Keys and Kid Cudi, producing the record. “That was one of the main reasons we wanted to work with him,” says Dost. “We wanted that element, and it's something that we love and appreciate so much in other songs, but it's not really something that we're naturally inclined for. And Jeff not only is good for it, but is responsible for a lot of the songs on the albums we love – like some of the stuff on Kanye's albums – and it was nice to go directly to the source because Jeff is just out of this world.”

Dost fondly recalls their 'game-changer' of a show; it was in August 2009, the day their debut album, Aim And Ignite, was released. “We had been playing shows and the reactions had been very good, but it hadn't felt like anything special was happening yet. And the day our album came out, that day, it seemed like everybody in the crowd knew our songs. People were breaking things and slamming into each other. It felt like a punk concert, even though our songs are pretty poppy. There was just so much energy in the room. My piano almost got kicked over and my mic stand got thrown around, people were really going crazy! That was the first moment that it really sunk in, that I'm really lucky to be doing this, to be playing these songs, to be here right now. And that is a feeling that hasn't gone away and I hope that doesn't ever go away.”